By Adam Canavan @adam_canavan
|Provodnikov pummels Alvarado.|
Ruslan 'The Siberian Rocky' Provodnikov improved his record to 23(16)-2 after a devastating display against 'Mile High' Mike Alvarado, now 34(23)-2(2), after Alvarado retired on his stool in the 10th round.
Alvarado was a narrow favourite coming into the fight, coming off an impressive display against Brandon Rios in their rematch, and Provodnikov was a very narrow underdog after just coming short in his gruelling fight with Tim Bradley earlier this year. This was a real 50/50 fight. Alvarado carried a 2.5 inch reach advantage and a 3 inch height advantage into the fight and, despite taking 2 attempts to make weight and looking slightly drawn at the weigh in, he also had a 9lb weight advantage on fight night; Alvarado unofficially weighed in at 157lbs to Provodnikov's 148lbs.
Provodnikov made a bright and fast start in the first round cutting off the ring and trying to force Alvarado into the toe to toe style fight many wanted to see. Just half way into the round Provodnikov landed a few of his trademark overhand rights and managed to wobble Alvarado.
Alvarado was much more mobile in round 2, keeping Provodnikov at bay and moving side to side, light on his feet, to keep ruslan from cutting off the ring effectively. He also switched stances from orthodox to southpaw in order to keep the Siberian thinking.
Round 3 was yet another action packed round with Alvarado getting drawn into more of a fight, however he managed to land, for the most part, the cleaner and harder shots in this round. There was more of the same in Round 4, but this time in favour of Provodnikov. He seemed to figure out Alvarado's rhthm and made him miss and made him pay on the inside with punishing hooks. This trend continued into the 5th as Provodnikov seemed to get the better of the action with hard, thudding shots and more focus on the body attack and Alvarado looked to be fading slightly as a result.
Alvarado picked up his movement again in the 6th round and exerted a lot of energy just to keep Provodnikov off him, and he had his success with several shots but seemingly had no defence for Provodnikov's left hooks, of which he landed several. This was the most even round of the fight and could've gone either way.
In contrast to the 6th, the remaining rounds of the fight (7-10) were very one sided. Ruslan Provodnikov really started to beat up Alvarado from this stage onwards, particularly in round 8 where Provodnikov tagged Alvarado with several hard shots forcing him to take a knee twice in the round. Alvarado fought back bravely but had no way of keeping the Siberian off him and whilst Provodnikov doesn't seem to have huge one punch knockout power, he does seem to have a concussive type of power, once you get hit you stay hit and it builds up throughout the fight. This showed in the final two rounds as Ruslan dug in with powerful shots to the body and head, completely draining Alvarado. At the end of the 10th round Alvarado said to his corner "I've got nothing left" and they pulled him out of the fight, and rightfully so.
This was Provodnikov's biggest win in his career and opened a lot of doors for big fights, but the big question for his potential opponents is: how do I stop a bulldozer like Provodnikov and is it worth the risk? However, you have to think that, after his last 2 fights, HBO will definitely want to help him secure the big fights as Ruslan Provodnikov is all action guaranteed! And as for Alvarado, he goes back to the drawing board, a move to Welterweight is perhaps the obvious decision after struggling to make 140lbs. Both can be proud in their performance this Saturday after delivering another fantastic fight on Saturday!